Is Baptism Sprinkling?

Brethren Lipscomb and Sewell, I have had the following scripture quoted to me to prove sprinkling: “And so shall he sprinkle many nations” (Isaiah 53:15). “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you” (Ezekiel 36:25). Now, what I want to know is this: Is the same Greek word used in these passages that is in our Savior’s commission? Please give the Greek words used in both places. Are the Greek words that are used (in either the Old or the New Testament) for sprinkle or pour ever used in the New Testament for baptize?


The prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel, as the whole of the Old Testament, were written in Hebrew, not Greek. The Hebrew Scriptures were, however, translated into the Greek before the days of the Savior. It was translated by seventy chosen translators, and is called the “Septuagint,” which means seventy. It is supposed to have been translated in the third century before Christ; was in general use among the Jews in Greece. It was quoted by the Savior and the apostles, and to this extent received their endorsement.

The word used in the Hebrew is no kin to the Hebrew word for baptize. The word by which it is translated into Greek has no kinship or likeness to the word translated baptize. The word by which it is translated into Greek is thaumazo, which neither means to baptize nor sprinkle, but to astonish or overpower with wonder and fear. This is the meaning of the word. Christ’s sufferings had been foretold, the marring of his person; and so shall he overcome with wonder and astonishment many nations. How the word sprinkle ever got into the sentence would be hard to tell. The word in the Hebrew and the Greek by which it is translated means to overcome with wonder.

The words used for sprinkle and pour in both the Old and New Testament are entirely different words from those used for baptize in the New Testament. The word translated dip in the Old Testament, as in the dipping of Naaman, the dipping the finger in blood, etc., is the word used for baptize in the New Testament. The word cheo means pour; the word rantizo, sprinkle; and the word baptizo, dip, plunge, or baptize. There is nothing in common between the different words. The sentence from Ezekiel is evidently an allusion to the sprinkling of the water of purification under the Mosaic law. It would be a strange thing to illustrate a moral purification by an allusion to something not yet established and totally unknown. This would be an abuse of even a prophetic enigma.

David Lipscomb


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